FAQ Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is a food bank?

A food bank is an organization that solicits, collects, stores and distributes food to other agencies in an effort to alleviate hunger. As the only food bank in northwest Pennsylvania, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania collects and distributes 13 million pounds of food each year to more than 400 partner organizations.

What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

Unlike pantries, food banks do not distribute food to the public. Pantries have the responsibility to directly distribute food to those in need. Food banks have the responsibility to ensure pantries have the resources they need to feed the individuals and families seeking help.

Who does the food bank provide food for?

Second Harvest supplies food to other anti-hunger non-profit organizations in 11 counties of northwest PA. If your 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization is interested in opening a pantry within the counties of Crawford, Erie, Warren, Venango, Forest, Clarion, McKean, Elk, Cameron, Jefferson or Clearfield counties, please call Rita Orinko at 814-459-3663 x 102 or email rorinko@nwpafoodbank.org.

What qualifies a person to receive food services?

Individuals will qualify to receive food assistance by stating that they fall within income guidelines seen on the Self Declaration of Need form seen here.

Can I receive food from the Second Harvest warehouse?

Second Harvest does not distribute food from its warehouse at 1507 Grimm Drive. Food is collected, sorted and stored at the warehouse and distributed to member agencies in 11 counties that include: food pantries, soup kitchens, Kids Café programs, etc. Individuals in need can receive food assistance through one of the Second Harvest member agencies in their area.

How do I get food?

You can access Second Harvest’s Agency Locator here. Type in your home address and find which member agency boundary you fall within. Or you can call the Emergency Food Helpline at 814-459-3663 x 121. Follow the menu. Leave a message clearly stating your name, address and phone number and the call will be returned by Second Harvest’s Agency Relations staff. Individuals will receive the location and time of food distribution for a member agency in his/her area. Individuals will need to show proof of residency (driver’s license, utility bill, etc.) upon receiving food from a Second Harvest member agency.

How can I help Second Harvest?

A general monetary donation can be made to support the Second Harvest mission in one of the following ways:
1. Write a check to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania. Mail the donation to: 1507 Grimm Drive,  Erie PA 16501.
2. Visit the facility at 1507 Grimm Drive in Erie between the hours of 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and personally make your donation.   You can receive a tour and learn more about Second Harvest’s mission.
3. Make your online donation by clicking on the Donate Today through Network for Good.
4. Host a fundraiser. Individuals, groups and businesses can make a significant impact in the efforts to alleviate hunger in our  region. For every $1 donated through the fundraiser, Second Harvest can obtain $17 (retail value) worth of food for the hungry. For more info about fundraisers, please call Heather Musacchio at 814-459-3663 x 113 or email hmusacchio@nwpafoodbank.org.

How do individuals donate food?

Food donations can be made at Second Harvest located at 1507 Grimm Drive, Erie Pa., between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Food can also be donated through one of the many food drives that occur during the year. For more information regarding holding a food drive, please call Heather Musacchio at 814-459-3663 x 113 or email hmusacchio@nwpafoodbank.org.

Can I donate food if it is past the expiration date?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions and the answer is YES! The dates we see on items in the store have different meanings. What may be considered to be an expiration date, may actually be a best if used by date, meaning the company will only guarantee the freshness and nutritional content up until that date. Other times, these are shelf rotation dates that are used to determine how long a particular item has remained on the shelf. For more information please call Sister Karen Kosin at 814-459-3663 x 107 or email kkosin@nwpafoodbank.org.